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Classic Recordings
Robert Altman Week

Saturday
Jan122013

« In Which The Wind Takes It In A Particular Direction »

Souvenir

by KAREN ESTRALLE

She opened the door to the office and found he had a light persuasion, like the surface of a leaf. Saw him again on the esplanade where he was flying a white, six fingered kite with text on it. She greeted him and took hold of the kite for a moment.

Part of the flying dragon had run up against a railing by the bait shop. He began to mend it and said, "Cook came here as well." She nodded.

"Most people know that story," he said. "He wanted to go as far as it was possible to go." He gave her a little look and asked her to hold part of the tail.

He told her that he recognized her from his father's workplace, and apologized for not knowing her when she greeted him. She said that it was all right and he reached into a cooler and handed her a square tin. She read the text on the kite. In Japanese it read, "FAST MAN." He said, "I'd like to know more about him. He was a white man?"

She nodded and told a brief anecdote that ended when the explorer was bitten on the neck by a rattlesnake. He shuddered and told her he was afraid of snakes, pressing down the latch of the cooler and taking out a sandwich for himself.

"I don't like to watch other people eat," she said. "It reminds me of a wake."

He asked how old she was. She told him, and he put the rest of the sandwich in the case. For a moment her heart , but then he moved his hand to his pocket, and he was suddenly staring more consistently in her direction. She explained where he fit in her metaphor of the leaf and he touched his finger to his lips.

He bought her a wide pair of sunglasses after he saw her squinting. They had already planned to sit outside. The bank was the nicest building in town. Half of a parade trundled down the sidewalk, maripeths ate long sandwiches filled with buffalo meat. A labrador caught a frisbee in his mouth.

She took him out of his pants in the bathroom of the coffee shop and his head tilted towards the ceiling. Presumably something else, some other world could be found up there, and while she briefly managed him with her left hand she allowed herself to try to see what it was. When he shuddered she was certain he was going to climax, but at a certain point he guided her head to his level and indicated she should stop.

While he cleaned himself up she opened the tin he had given her. There was wood glue, string and a seashell shaped like a question mark.

In the street, a gaggle of teenagers dressed as parrots danced in complicated choreography. She did not entirely hear what he said next, but it was not completely unexpected. She pretended to be listening. "Sometimes," she said, "I can't tell whether what I am looking at is a diamond or a square turned on its side."

Karen Estralle is a writer living in Oregon. This is her first appearance in these pages.

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